Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson could be facing discipline from the NHL’s department of player safety again, just eight days after he was suspended two preseason games for interference. Playing in St. Louis on Sunday, Wilson was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Blues forward Sam Blais. The hit is being reviewed by the department of player safety, according to a source.
If Wilson is summoned for another hearing with the department of player safety, he would potentially receive a harsher punishment than he did a week ago because he would be classified as a repeat offender. With Washington having so little wiggle room on the salary cap, a regular season suspension for Wilson could put the Capitals in a bind if a forward were to get injured because the team might not have enough cap space to recall an extra forward with Wilson still counting against the cap. Two of the Capitals’ first three games are on the road.
The other factor to consider is that the game on Sunday wasn’t televised in St. Louis or Washington, so there was no broadcast of the game for the department of player safety to review. However, there are always cameras in the building and the league can ask for the in-arena feed as well as the coaches’ film for any additional angles and replays of the hit.
Those angles may not compare to the plethora captured by a television broadcast but would not necessarily preclude the department of player safety from making a ruling if it considered the video angle it had sufficient evidence. Some infractions require more detailed information while others may be more obviously illegal without zoomed in, slow-motion close-ups. The department of player safety would not suspend a player if it was not comfortable with a certain video angle, but it would also not let a player off from a suspension just because there’s just one or two angles.
Wilson’s suspension a week ago also came in a preseason game against the Blues, when his hit on Robert Thomas was deemed late and excessively forceful. On Sunday, St. Louis Coach Mike Yeo said Wilson’s boarding on Blais was “a predatory hit with a guy that apparently didn’t learn his lesson from the first suspension.” Blais was evaluated for a concussion, but he returned to the game.
“Maybe coming down a little bit harder on him will make him think a little bit more about it,” Yeo said. “It’s tough, going after vulnerable people.”
Wilson is expected to play somewhere in the middle-six forwards of Washington’s lineup, and he is also a top penalty-killing forward. After his first suspension, Wilson said he wouldn’t change his physical style of play, but “I’ve got to finish my checks quicker,” he said. “I’m fast enough that I can get to players in enough time to finish the check, and if it’s not there, then I have to pass up on the hit.”
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